The government has pledged to compensate firms in Northern Ireland if they are faced with tariffs in the event of the UK failing to agree a free trade deal with the EU.
Cabinet minister Michael Gove made the commitment in a Northern Ireland affairs select committee session yesterday (Thursday 18 June).
In the meeting described as “tricky”, the minister faced criticism for continuing uncertainty over administration around moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
'Indemnify and reimburse'
As reported by the Guardian, Gove told the committee the government wants “to make sure that in the event of there not being a free trade agreement … with the EU, that we are in a position to indemnify and reimburse companies for tariffs”.
However, the Guardian also noted that Gove was “unable to answer repeated questions by Labour MP Hilary Benn” about whether entry summary declaration forms would be needed when moving goods from GB into NI.
Such documentation is required to ensure the movement of legitimate trade into the EU.
Gove promised more detail on safety and security around goods later this summer.
NI tariff scenarios outlined
A webinar hosted by the IOE&IT earlier this week on behalf of Invest NI, outlined the likely scenarios for tariffs in the region after transition.
Host Kevin Shakespeare, IOE&IT director of stakeholder engagement, reminded attendees that if no deal is struck, EU tariffs could be payable on goods entering NI especially those “at risk” of progressing to the Irish Republic.
Secondary legislation would be needed for such unique tariff arrangements in Northern Ireland, Gove told the select committee yesterday.
In a statement after the session, the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium criticised an ongoing lack of detail in the government’s application of the Northern Irish Protocol.
Aodhán Connolly, director of NIRC, said there remained potential cash flow issues for NI retailers, adding:
“If [NI] retailers are going to be able to continue to give households the same choice and affordability [from] January 2021, then we need technical details on how the proposals in the UK government Command Paper [the government’s approach to implementing the NI Protocol] will work.
“It is not enough to cover off one or two points and consider it sufficient. The solutions for VAT, health & safety, tariffs, security, safety and transit are a jigsaw for which all the pieces need to fit together…and be deliverable by December.”
Northern Ireland masterclass on Friday 26 June – free to attend
In response to unprecedented demand from members and non-members, the IOE&IT is to host two more webinars on Northern Ireland.
Held under the UK Customs Academy banner, 'Customs 101: How will the Irish Protocol work for UK businesses' is on 26 June and is free attend when you register here.
On 30 June, the IOE&IT hosts a Masterclass webinar on 'Northern Ireland Trade Post-Brexit'.
It is free to IOE&IT members while non-members pay just £100+VAT, which is refundable from the government grant.